What will your legacy be?
Recently the story of a jailbreak took the headlines by storm. This time it was “El Chapo” Guzman, a drug lord who had run a huge drug cartel out of Mexico.
The headlines reported that he first climbed through a small hole in his shower. He then walked a mile through a well-ventilated shaft to freedom.
At one time he was called “enemy number 1” by American authorities. The last person who had the distinction of that title was Al Capone.
Guzman had been sent to prison and escaped, only to be later caught and placed in a maximum security prison. But now he had escaped yet again.
Soon CNN posted an article on their website that claimed Guzman was believed to be the chief contributor of the drugs that flowed into the streets of Chicago.
A retired Chicago detective, who had spent sixty years in law enforcement, was quoted as saying: “Guzman is the reason you’ve got kids fighting over just one corner, and shooting each other.”
He went on to say, “Guzman has hurt everyone—the users in the city and the suburbs, the innocent bystanders, the kids who get wrapped up in gangs.”
Later in the article it stated that Guzman “was born to a poor rural family and rose to lead a global network of smugglers, dealers, assassins, corrupt politicians, and paid-off police.”
The article also reported that Guzman had almost 150,000 street gang members who dealt heroin, cocaine, and meth on the Chicago streets and that 83 percent of men arrested for crimes in Chicago in 2013 tested positive for drug use.
It’s pretty obvious how Guzman will be remembered, but what about you? What will your legacy be? How will you be remembered by others? What will people say about you when you’re gone?
Several years ago a friend of mine had breakfast with a wealthy Walmart executive.
The executive told my friend that although he had made a lot of money and had been very successful, he felt empty because he had done nothing of significance.
The main reason many men walk away from their families midway through their lives is because they think the next wife or more money will fill the hole deep within them.
Jesus has a lot to say about this. If fact, he makes one statement that is so important that three of the New Testament books record it:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34–38)
Jesus is very clear that if you want to follow Him, you must completely die to yourself. Dead men have no rights.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during WWII. He is famous for saying: “When God calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
He was killed in a concentration camp just weeks before Hitler committed suicide.
Jim Elliot was a missionary to the Eca Indians back in the 1950s. He was killed by the very people he was trying to win to Christ.
He said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he will never lose.”
The world would say that their early deaths were a waste, but Bonhoeffer and Elliot were two of the great men of their days. They were willing to give it all, even their own lives, for Christ.
At the heart of living a life of significance is not living for yourself but giving your life for others.
Once again I will ask: What will your legacy be? How will people remember you?
I can distinctly remember one night during my freshman year that I decided to make Christ not just my Savior but Lord of my life.
I resisted the temptation to go live with a lot of other Christian guys and instead spent most of my time investing in my fraternity.
From an outsider’s point of view, there is not much about fraternity or sorority life that will help you grow in your relationship with Christ.
But what if the reason you got a bid from your chapter was not because of your good looks, who you knew, or how you dress? What if God was the one who placed you in your chapter?
Some highlights of college for me were the spiritual conversations I had with guys late at night at the house.
Leading Bible studies, even if only a few guys showed up, was deeply fulfilling.
Whether it was standing up in chapter, giving devotionals from our ritual, or praying for a brother who was going through a hard time, it was awesome.
Sure, I took some heat for being one of the only outspoken Christians in the house.
I had to drive an old van to school sophomore year because my grades didn’t satisfied my dad.
The actives called it the “Jerusalem cruiser” and “Jesus bus,” but this was very little persecution in light of the impact I made on several of my brothers.
An active named Jim Landsaw came by my room one night during my senior year.
I was living in the frat house and left my door open as often as possible.
Jim looked concerned. He said he had just found out that one of his close friends had died in a car wreck.
After listening for a while, I asked, “Jim, have you thought about where you would be if you had been in that car?” He answered yes and that he had no idea.
As we talked through the gospel, Jim decided to surrender his life to Christ that night. He later served on staff with Cru for two years after college.
I was no saint in college. I did several things that I regret. But when it comes to giving my all to my fraternity for Christ, I have very few regrets.
Some practical to-do’s
When I met with a younger guy in the fraternity who had promise of being a spiritual leader in the house, there were a few things I talked to him about.
I first told him that I saw a lot of potential in him and that I could see him being a key spiritual leader in the house.
Then I asked him to consider two questions and then get back together in a few days to discuss them.
I asked, “What do you need to do this semester to prepare yourself to be one of the key spiritual leaders in this frat? And how can I help you?”
Next I asked: What do you not need to be doing to be ready to be one of the key spiritual leaders in this frat? And how can I keep you accountable in those areas?
During the last week of my college career, I had a commissioning service for the guys I had poured into.
I asked seven guys to meet me down in the basement one night at midnight.
My friend Darren and I led together because he had helped me over the years ministering in the house.
Here are a few things we did that night.
We read various passages of Scripture and challenged them to step up and lead the ministry in the chapter.
That meant doing devotionals at chapter as well as leading Bible studies in the house.
Next we laid hands on each guy and prayed for him specifically.
Then we took off their shoes and washed their feet, and finally we took communion together.
Now I am not saying you need to do all these things, but I will say that the next day, when I was eating lunch in the house, Hunter Hall came up to me and said, “I really got it last night. I realize that I really need to step up and lead in this house!”
And he did just that, becoming a key spiritual leader the next year.
Then he went on to join staff with Cru and ended up coming back to the University of Arkansas and ministering in the Sigma Chi house for seven years.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. …to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22)